Keeping watch

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More on thoughts as constructive or destructive, this time from an early Christian monk who was remarkable for his insights into processes of the mind or heart. His encouragement to be watchful of what thoughts we dwell on and resist negative,  self-critical,  ones, is very similar to one of the descriptions found in ancient texts of mindfulness as a gatekeeper,  and to exercises used in modern Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

Be the guardian of your own heart and do not let any thought pass through without checking them! Ask each one of them: “Are you from our side or from that of those against us?“.  If they come from your own house, they will fill you full of peace, but if they come from your enemy they will stir up anger and agitate your emotions.

Evagrius Pontius, 345 – 399.

photo guus van der valk


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Everyone’s mind likes saying “but.”

Thinking you are doing it wrong, that the conditions of your life stop you from making friends with yourself – these thoughts might get in the way of noticing what it is like to be you. You might disapprove of who you are, but disapproving is just another way of not being here.

In this case, making friends with yourself could mean lowering your standards….

John Tarrant, What’s it Like to be You?

photo Ian Kirk